CMS to Make More Nursing Home Staffing Data Available on Nursing Home Care Compare Website
Following the launch of an updated website designed to provide better nursing home safety data, federal health officials will begin posting information about nursing home staffing levels, to allow families and employees to make better and more informed decisions when selecting a facility to work at or reside in.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the update to its CMS Compare Care website last month, indicating it will begin posting staffing turnover rates and weekend staff levels for nursing homes throughout the United States, to allow consumers to understand the facilities care environment.
With more than 1.3 million residents in over 15,000 Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing homes throughout the United States, significant attention has been placed on nursing home neglect incidents caused by understaffing, staffing turnover rates and lack of infectious disease protocols throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Following scrutiny by legislators and the public, CMS began making a series of improvements to its CMS Compare Care website, which provides nursing home and long term care facilities a rating of one star (much below average) to five stars (much above average), based on health inspections, staffing levels, quality measures, and an overall rating.
In September 2021, CMS added indications about the percentages of staff and residents that have received their COVID-19 vaccinations, and compares those percentages to the state and nationwide averages, after it became apparent that nursing homes were being particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to the mounting pressure for additional transparency of nursing home environments, CMS announced it will begin posting the percent of nursing staff and number of administrators who have stopped working at a nursing home over a 12-month period, which includes licensed nurse staff, licensed practical and vocational nurses and nurse aides responsible for the patients’ day-to-day care such as eating, bathing, grooming and toileting.
In addition to the nursing home turnover rates, CMS will require nursing homes to report the number of staff and registered nurses working on weekends, which will be updated quarterly for public view.
“CMS has long identified staffing as a vital component of a nursing home’s ability to provide quality care, and CMS has used staffing data to more accurately and effectively gauge its impact on quality of care in nursing homes,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure.
CMS stated in its release that lower nursing home staffing turnover has a direct impact on the patients overall quality of care. By decreasing turnover, nurses are able to better identify a patient’s change in condition sooner and are able to implement plans to prevent nursing home injuries such as falls or medication mix-ups.
In March 2021, the journal Health Affairs published the findings of a study which highlighted the long-standing understaffing problems at nursing homes and long term care facilities nationwide, indicating some facilities have turnover rates as high as 300%.
Critics have previously claimed the CMS ratings system has become a way for facilities to market themselves, while hiding deep and systemic problems with nursing home neglect, nursing home abuse, medication errors and violence against the elderly.
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